Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Role of Music in Building Baby's Brain

In recent years, we’ve learned a lot about how the brain develops. During the first years of life, brain cells form connections with other brain cells. Over time, the connections we use regularly become stronger. Children who grow up listening to music develop strong music-related connections, which can affect the way they think.

Although music doesn’t actually make us smarter, it does seem to prime our brains for certain kinds of thinking. For example, after listening to classical music, adults can do certain spatial tasks more quickly, such as putting together a jigsaw puzzle.

Classical music, by composers such as Bach, Beethoven, or Mozart, is different from music such as rock and country. Classical music has a more complex musical structure, which researchers think primes the brain to solve spatial problems more quickly.

If you are parenting a baby or young child, The University of Georgia/College of Family and Consumer Sciences suggests the following ideas to help nurture your child’s love of music:

Play music for your baby. Expose your children to many different musical styles. If you play an instrument, practice when your baby is nearby. Keep the volume moderate, as loud music can damage a baby’s hearing.

Sing to your baby. Hearing your voice helps your baby begin to learn language. Babies love the patterns and rhythms of songs and can recognize specific melodies once they’ve heard them.

Sing with your child. Setting words to music actually helps the brain learn the words more quickly and retain them longer. I’m sure you still remember the lyrics of songs you sang as a child.

Start music lessons early. Young children’s developing brains are equipped to learn music. Most four and five-year-olds enjoy making music and can learn the basics of some instruments. Starting lessons early help children build a lifelong love of music.

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